New York University announced it plans to award free tuition to all its medical students — current and future.
The surprise announcement came Thursday during a White Coat Ceremony where faculty members present first-year medical students with their lab coats marking the beginning of the medical education, according to a news release.
"No more tuition. ... The day they get their diploma, they owe nobody nothing," Kenneth G. Langone, the board of trustees chairman for NYU Langone Medical Center, told USA Today. The Langone Medical Center is named for Langone and his wife, Elaine.
The scholarship will cover annual yearly tuition of $55,018. It will become the first institution to award full tuition for medical students "regardless of need or merit," the school said in the release.
"[Students] walk out of here unencumbered, looking at a future where they can do what their passion tells them," Langone said.
High levels of debt are impacting the physician workforce, NYU medical dean of admissions Dr. Rafael Rivera told WCBS-TV.
"According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, 75 percent of all doctors in the U.S. graduated with debt in 2017. Additionally, the median cost of medical education (tuition and fees) for private medical school is $59,605 and the median current debt of a graduating student is $202,000. What’s more, 21 percent of doctors graduating from a private school do so with more than $300,000 of educational debt," the release said.
“People shouldn’t graduate medical school with the equivalent of a mortgage,” Rivera added.
Who's paying for it?
Donations made to the medical school by more than 2,000 trustees, alumni, and others have provided the funds for the tuition scholarships, according to WCBS.
“We hope that many other academic medical centers will soon choose to join us on this path," said Dr. Robert Grossman, dean of the Saul J. Farber Dean of NYU School of Medicine and CEO of NYU Langone Health.
The medical school at NYU, a private university, is ranked third in the U.S., and tied with Stanford University in Stanford, California, according to U.S. News & World Report.
The school ranks just behind No. 1 Harvard University in Boston, and No. 2 Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
NYU's medical school has an acceptance rate of 6 percent, according to the Princeton Review.